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The Life Sciences Skills Gap: How to Hire

Posted on July 2023

Man in suit talking to life sciences professionals

The life sciences industry is rapidly growing, but it is experiencing skills gaps that need to be addressed to allow it to reach its full potential.

According to a 2022 life sciences and pharma talent trends report, 33% of C-suite and human capital leaders in the life sciences and pharmaceuticals sector agree that talent scarcity is a major pain point. This problem is widespread, with the UK also suffering a skills shortage that threatens to stall the industry’s trajectory.

Skills gaps in digital and computational skills, and industrial, economic, and clinical research are particularly large. However, if phenotypic, genomic, and patient data integration practices can be optimized across the industry, this will support both research and treatment advances in the future.

This article shares effective hiring strategies that can help life sciences organizations address skill gaps within their teams and wider business.

Understanding the skills gaps in the life sciences industry

Statistics from the talent trends report highlight the key skills gaps in the life sciences industry and how they impact key research and development processes.

Demand for life sciences products is forecast to grow more rapidly than the global GDP over the coming years, and 45% of the aforementioned talent leaders note that they are looking to hire primarily to avoid talent scarcity from hindering their organizations’ progress. Moreover, the report found that 67% of pharmaceutical and life sciences companies believe that reskilling their current employees is an efficient way to address and mitigate skills gaps.

It currently takes 105 days on average to fill a non-executive life sciences position in the US, leading to financial losses of $500 per open role per day, so intentional talent strategies are crucial to setting life sciences businesses on the path to success.

Supporting mobility between sectors

Supporting mobility between sectors plays a vital role in closing the skills gaps within the life sciences industry. Enabling professionals to transition across sectors, ranging from Regulatory and Legal Services to Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Engineering, allows life sciences companies to tap into a vast pool of talent. This is also an effective method of sharing intersectional knowledge and developing key skills.

Selecting candidates with a diverse range of backgrounds for open roles may also bring more unique perspectives into your organization, thereby driving innovation and helping to meet growing demand.

Focus on transferable skills

Focusing on transferable skills is a powerful approach to bridging the skills gap in the life sciences industry. Rather than solely emphasizing sector-specific experience, prioritizing transferable skills enables professionals to adapt and thrive in new roles within the field.

The life sciences industry’s talent offers a myriad of transferable skills that can be used to power future growth and innovation. These include analytical skills, leadership and teamwork skills, problem solving, written and oral communication skills, management skills, and scientific peer communication.

Additional soft skills to focus on in your talent acquisition strategy include critical thinking, problem solving, and attention to detail.

Consider cultural fit

Seek out candidates from other industries who align with your organization’s culture, values, and core mission. This alignment promotes employee engagement, retention, and overall job satisfaction, whilst creating a supportive working environment that benefits from a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

These candidates should also possess the aforementioned transferable skills, which will help to ensure that they can perform optimally in their new roles without being hindered by common skills gaps.

Offer more flexibility

While not a priority for all candidates, flexible working arrangements such as remote or hybrid work arrangements are valuable to skilled candidates and may help to give your organization an advantage in the ongoing competition for life sciences talent.

Hire top talent with EPM Scientific

EPM Scientific is a leading specialist life sciences talent partner, providing you with a wealth of expertise to help you locate the best talent for your life sciences roles globally.

Submit a vacancy or request a call back from our team to find the right people to drive your organization forwards.